Freestyle football star John Farnworth believes the self-expressionism art form could become an Olympic discipline one day.
The 29-year-old, who hails from Longridge near Preston, has wowed audiences around the world for years with his amazing skills involving nothing more than a football and a few props.
But speaking at the National Football Museum in Manchester, the multiple Guinness World Records holder and widely-regarded world’s best freestyler believes its unique nature and wide appeal could see it break into sport’s highest echelons.
He said: “Why would it not be an Olympic sport? Everyone really likes it.
“I get some interesting comments from people who don’t watch football, but really like what I do so that shows it’s a broad spectrum of people who watch it.
“There’s no reason why it couldn’t be an Olympic sport as it develops and grows, as the history grows.
“I would love to see it one day. I’d be watching and the biggest fan.”
Coming from a keen family of footballers, Farnworth was inspired to take up freestyle as a career 12 years ago during a visit to Manchester.
He may spend a lot of time on the road with charity work and his academy taking his football freestyle demonstrations around the world from the USA and even parts of Asia, but he is no stranger to the National Football Museum, and close to home he is a man very much in demand.
From demonstrating his skills to audiences of awestruck children, to promoting the Football Flick skills-training unit he is an ambassador for and appearing on TV shows and at corporate event, the Manchester United fan even had time to claim a sixth Guinness World Record for most rebound volleys in 30 seconds” shortly before an inspired 10-year-old Bury fan set a new record for the most rebound half-volleys.
With a desire to push the boundaries of what he can do, Farnworth has also started to bring magic into some of his demonstrations and skills after taking it up as a hobby last year, leading to recording a tricks for CBBC’s Match of the Day Kickabout.
Epitomising the notion that there are no limits to what can be done with freestyle, he even completed the 2011 London Marathon in a time of 12 hours and 15 minutes for football charity Kick4Life, managing to keep a ball up for the entire 26.2 miles.
In spite of his many achievements, Farnworth insists he has a hunger to push everyone, and the boundaries of freestyle, even further.
He added: “For me, I do what I enjoy. So I’ll pick up flicks from things or I’ll do handstands and combine it all together.
“I just like to move with the ball and have fun. Sometimes that creates new skills, but it’s a blank canvas for me. Here’s a ball: what can you do?
“That’s the great thing about freestyle. It’s all about what you do and how unique you are. You can take a move, but it’s important to make it your own and I see it as such a beautiful thing that people are doing freestyle because it pushes the limits, it pushes me to keep ahead, it pushes everyone else to do that.
“I won a few comps a few years ago and that enabled me to travel, set world records, meet people, work on TV, and get my message to the world of what I’m about, so I’m honoured – I never thought that would happen.
“There is so much more I want to achieve with it. There’s no limit about it at all. There are a lot of things that I’m working on at the moment that are crazy and nobody really knows anything about.
“I don’t really like to talk about what I’m doing though. I just like to do it and hopefully people will enjoy it.
“Where I’m at is a miniature per cent of where I want to get to so I always say ‘watch this space’.”
Farnworth also recently starred in a video in Barcelona, in which he showed off his skills for the Champions League champions and demonstrated his ability to combine freestyle and magic for Brazil forward Neymar, who he admits is one of his favourite players.
Recalling his experience with the Barcelona star, he believes that the universality of the football means that it is possible to transcend barriers and still make a lasting impression.
“He didn’t speak any English, but football is such a language that I just felt like I was with a friend – you show me a trick, I’ll show you a trick. It just showed how good these guys are.
“I just wanted to do a bit of magic for him and he was laughing – I don’t think he was expecting that one, so I managed to blend a couple of things together and he was really impressed.”
Freestyle may not be on the radar of the International Olympic Committee for inclusion in the short-term, but with his infectious personality and desire to achieve push everyone forward, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if Farnworth helps juggle it into the reckoning.
Image courtesy of JohnFarnworthTV via YouTube, with thanks.